Laura Kuenssberg warns of Tory MP’s ‘confidence shaking’
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Vladimir Putin’s attempts to capture Kyiv have “fundamentally changed the opposition and the government’s priorities”, temporarily moving away from the scandals hitting No 10 just prior to the crisis, she claimed. But the Prime Minister has not emerged unscathed from the raft of allegations and investigations going on behind Downing Street, she added.
One minister told the BBC’s political editor that despite what many consider to be Mr Johnson’s satisfactory handling of the Ukraine crisis, “his personal brand still is damaged”, which will see the questions over his leadership re-emerge in the future.
The Prime Minister held a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch leader Mark Rutte on Monday, announcing a boost of UK funding destined to the besieged state.
This brings the total of UK funds dedicated to Ukraine to £400 million, with Mr Johnson calling for the rest of the world to remain united against Russia as the crisis deepens.
As the UK public’s attention is caught by the crises unfolding across Ukraine, Ms Kuenssberg remarked “the agony abroad has totally changed the political environment for Boris Johnson.”
She added: “Whatever their view of Boris Johnson, for the vast majority of Tories it is just not the time for a conversation about changing the leader.”
With another minister commenting to Ms Kuenssberg that anyone calling for Mr Johnson’s head at this moment would be “off their rocker”, it appears that the crisis which has enraged so many – and galvanised alliances against Vladimir Putin – has staved off the competition for the top job in No 10.
Mr Johnson, who, as Ms Kuenssberg puts it, is “now spending his time on calls with the president of Ukraine, jetting to eastern Europe and trying to broker Western action”, is no longer in the unenviable position of just “trying to keep his own political head above water”.
But a crucial part of the Prime Minister’s saving grace is the relative quiet of the Labour Party, with leader Sir Keir Starmer far less willing to push forward with demands for Mr Johnson’s resignation.
As Ms Kuenssberg points out, when Sir Keir was asked at the weekend whether the moment was right for the Prime Minister to step down, he responded: “Look, at the moment the Prime Minister is obviously concentrating on the job in hand and we stand united as the United Kingdom on that issue.”
Conversations around Western collaboration against Russian President Vladimir Putin have focused on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine, as well as worries over energy prices.
Over the weekend, the UN announced the sheer number of people fleeing Ukraine amounted to the fasted growing refugee crisis since World War 2.
Over 1.5 million people have crossed over into neighbouring countries from Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.
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Filippo Grandi, the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, added this will only continue to spiral.
He said: “These governments have done very well in their initial response. They were well prepared.
“But if the numbers continue to grow it will be a problem.”
Following Mr Johnson’s press conference, Home Secretary Priti Patel was put under the microscope after it was claimed the Home Office had only issued 50 visas to Ukrainian refugees under the Ukraine family scheme.
Ms Patel called the figure is “inaccurate”, adding up-to-date figures will be released later on Monday.
Speaking on this point earlier on Monday, Sir Keir Starmer called the Home Office’s response a “complete mess”, constantly zig-zagging between policies.
He said: “The Home Office is in a complete mess about this. They keep changing the rules. The stories of what is actually happening on the ground contradict what the Home Office say.
“They have got to sort this out.
“There should be a simple route to sanctuary for those that are fleeing for their lives.”
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